Crew "couldn't pass up" Sweat with 14th SuperDraft pick
Even before Andre Blake was selected first overall by the Philadelphia Union in Thursday's 2014 MLS SuperDraft, the draft was already considered a success for the Crew.
On Monday, the Black & Gold traded the fourth overall pick to the New England Revolution in exchage for the rights to sign U.S. Men's National Team defender Michael Parkhurst, and then on Tuesday, the club got the 14th overall selection and 25-year-old midfielder Hector Jimenez by trading the 23rd pick and allocation money to the LA Galaxy.
With that 14th pick, the Crew selected leftback Ben Sweat from the University of South Florida. It was a selection that club would have made even with the fourth pick, tweeted Chairman Anthony Precourt.
Gregg got his man. Welcome to the Crew Ben Sweat! Likely would have taken him at 4th overall, a win for us. #crew96
— Anthony Precourt (@APrecourt) January 16, 2014
Sweat's availability deep into the First Round was a surprise for Sporting Director Gregg Berhalter and his technical staff.
"We got an exciting player," explained Berhalter. "[Sweat] is a very dynamic player, he likes to get up and down the wing. Good left foot, good crossing of the ball, good offensive skills. We're going to work on his offensive skills, but he's a good, good guy, a good player. I'm surprised he last that long [until the 14th pick].
"He was very high on our board. He represented a great value in terms of quality and where he was being drafted at. It was something we couldn't pass up."
Though he hails from the Sunshine State, Sweat does have a history with the Black & Gold. The defender played on the Crew Juniors Super-20 team with current First Team players Wil Trapp, Ross Friedman and Matt Walker.
Berhalter took the Crew Juniors' staff's advice and feedback from Sweat's training stint with Swedish side Djurgarden in 2012 into consideration before the SuperDraft.
"A lot of [the motivation to draft Sweat] was determined at the Combine," Berhalter explained. "We got some pre-advice from Crew Juniors, and also feedback from him training in Sweden. All five of the coaches at the combine were really impressed with his play."
Sweat's addition bolsters a solid core of players that will compete for the starting spot on the left side of the Crew defense. Agustín Viana and Tyson Wahl, who split time at the postion in 2013, return in 2014 and the club signed Costa Rican Waylon Francis in November.
"You need depth," said Berhalter. "You need to have at least two good players at that position. With Agustín, I think we have a solid pro, a veteran and a guy that can also slide into the middle. We like the versatility we have at that position."